The arrival of May 2017 brings with it many springtime traditions and celebrations to honor the phenomenal growth in the garden and the warming of the sun.
The glittering leaves of the rhododendrons
Balance and vibrate in the cool air;
While in the sky above them
White clouds chase each other.
—John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950)
May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants.
Cinco de Mayo (“The Fifth of May”) celebrates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Recipes for the Season
Click for more Spring Recipes using seasonal ingredients from across North America!
See our free vegetable, herb, and fruit plant guides for tips on planting, growing, and harvesting your most popular crops.
In May, enjoy new life! Attract hummingbirds to your garden. See our list of plants that attract hummingbirds.
Celebrate a new season of flowers by planting window boxes!
This is also the time when moles start coming out. See our page on how to control moles.
Enjoy our weekly Gardening Blog for timely gardening advice!
The wedding season is almost upon us. Find out wedding weather, sunset times, folklore, and more on our Wedding Planner page.
Don’t get stressed! We’ve got Stress and Anxiety Remedies to help provide relief.
Spring cleaning? See homemade cleaning remedies and other tips to help you around the home.
May’s full Moon, the Full Flower Moon, occurs on the 10th, at 5:42 P.M. (EDT). See the Full Moon for May Guide for facts and folklore.
May Folklore and Fun
A dry May and a leaking June
Make the farmer whistle a merry tune.
A snowstorm in May
Is worth a wagonload of hay.
May Zodiac Signs
Taurus: April 21 to May 20
Gemini: May 21 to June 20
May Birth Symbols
May’s birth flower is the Hawthorn or Lily-of-the-Valley.
The hawthorn means hope, while the lily-of-the-valley symbolizes sweetness or the return of happiness. Learn more about May’s birth flowers.
May’s birthstone is the emerald. See birthstone meanings.
A few fun facts about emeralds:
- The emerald is a green type of beryl. Its color ranges from light to rich green; the more saturated hues are more valuable, especially if pure- or blue-green.
- Natural emeralds are flawed, with fractures or other materials mixed in, called inclusions, which may appear as needles, columns, or cubes of minerals or bubbles of gas or liquid. Sometimes oil or resin is added to fill fractures and improve appearance.
- Some of the best emeralds come from South American mines, although perhaps the oldest known came from Egypt. The emerald was a favorite gem of Cleopatra.
- The emerald symbolizes rebirth and fertility and was thought to grant foresight, cure various diseases, soothe nerves, improve memory, and ensure loyalty.
This Month in History
May 23: What’s Your Name?
On this day in 1707, Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus was born. One of his major achievements was the formal introduction of a system of classifying and naming organisms according to genus and species, called binomial nomenclature. The method uses Latin words (a language commonly used by scholars in his day). For example, humans are classified as Homo sapiens. Homo, meaning “man,” is the genus and sapiens, meaning “wise,” is the species. Several species may exist within one genus, but each species only has one scientific name. Scientists today use a modified version of Linnaeus’s system. Because the same naming convention is used throughout the world, it eliminates much confusion when discussing organisms.
Did You Know?
Carl Linnaeus originated the use of 0 (the symbol for Mars) to mean male and 1 (the symbol for Venus) to mean female.
May 26: Terrifying Twisters
On this day in 1917, tornadoes struck central Illinois, killing 101 people. Originally thought to be just one tornado that wreaked havoc along a 293-mile-long path, the outbreak was later determined to be four to eight tornadoes. One of them lasted 4 hours and followed a track 155 miles long (including the distance traveled while in the air). Mattoon and Charleston were especially hard hit by an F4 tornado (original Fujita scale). In Mattoon, almost 500 houses were destroyed.
According to newspaper reports:
- straw was driven ½ inch deep into a tree
- a flagpole with flag was blown four blocks and planted upright in the ground
- books and other items were carried 50 to 70 miles away
According to astronomers, what is a Julian day?
Answer: The term “Julian day” can be confusing because it has several meanings, including being a date on the Julian calendar. In astronomy, however, the Julian day (or Julian day number) is the number of days that have passed since the start of a Julian period. The Julian period is a year-numbering system developed by 16th-century French astronomer Joseph Justus Scaliger. He determined that the current Julian period began on January 1, 4713 B.C. of the Julian calendar; every 7,980 years, the count of years restarts.
For dating and comparing the timing of astronomical events and observations, John Herschel and other astronomers created a day-numbering system based on Scaliger’s Julian period. There are no months in a Julian day system; it simply counts the days, and fractions of days in decimals, since the period began. Julian day 0 occurred on January 1, 4713 B.C. The Julian day starts at noon Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time) so that nighttime astronomical events occur on one Julian day.
A Julian date includes the fraction of a Julian day. For example, on May 1, 2016 (Gregorian calendar date), at midnight (the start of the day on a common calendar) the Julian day number was 2457509, and the Julian date was 2457509.5. On May 1, 2016, at noon, the Julian day number changed to 2457510 and the Julian date to 2457510.0.